The White House said Tuesday that some of the anger that Democratic lawmakers have encountered at town hall meetings over the past several days is "manufactured."This is literally the definition of community organizing, and almost verbatim a description of what Barack Obama spent his entire professional career doing in Chicago. From the liberal magazine The New Republic in 2007:
"In fact, I think you've had groups today, Conservatives for Patients Rights, that have bragged about organizing and manufacturing that anger," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Yet Obama connects his past as a Chicago organizer to his presidential bid with surprising ease. Last month, during his first visit to South Carolina since his campaign announcement, we discussed his community-organizing days. He sat at the head of along table inside a dimly lit hotel conference room in Columbia and ate a chocolate energy bar. When I began to suggest links between his organizing work then and his current campaign, he interrupted:"I think there is. I don't think you need to strain for it." He was at home talking Alinskian jargon about "agitation," which he defined as "challenging people to scrape away habit," and he fondly recalled organizing workshops where he learned the concept of "being predisposed to other people's power."
Obama's self-conception as an organizer isn't just a campaign gimmick. Organizing remained central to Obama long after his stint on the South Side. In the 13 years between Obama's return to Chicago from law school and his Senate campaign, he was deeply involved with the city's constellation of community- organizing groups. He wrote about the subject. He attended organizing seminars. He served on the boards of foundations that support community organizing. He taught Alinsky's concepts and methods in workshops. When he first ran for office in 1996, he pledged to bring the spirit of community organizing to his job in the state Senate. And, after he was elected to the U.S. Senate, his wife, Michelle, told a reporter, "Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change." Recalling her remark in 2005, Obama wrote, "I take that observation as a compliment."
By defining himself as a "community organizer" above all else, Obama is linking himself to America's radical democratic tradition and presenting himself as an heir to a particular political style and methodology that, at least superficially, contrasts sharply with the candidate Obama has become. Community organizers see themselves as disciples of Thomas Paine and the colonists who dumped tea in Boston Harbor. Historically, they have revered the tactics of the labor militants of the 1930s, and they became famous in the '60s for the political theater championed by Alinsky, illustrated most memorably by his threat of a "fart-in" at a Rochester, New York, opera house to bring attention to the Kodak company's refusal to hire blacks.
Please understand that even if you support the president, what he and his people are doing to try and undermine those opposed to socialized medicine (via Obama's "public option" scam) is hypocritical on a scale seldom seen. Anyone has just as much right to organize themselves to complain about their government as anyone else. That isn't reserved only for demographics popular with the mainstream media and who agree with David Axelrod's vision to "re-make" America.